Your teacher HADASSAH DAMIEN is an artist, technologist, and iconoclast who founded Ride Free Fearless Money in 2015.

She’s launched both freelance and collective businesses, defaulted on her now-paid-off student loans, and saved $15k while she made $30k/year as a part-time employed working artist touring the US with queer femme art.

She comes from working-class western New York roots. She put values she inherited and others she admires into practice and under microscopes in her work as a community arts organizer, progressive tech builder, and educator.

Damien has an MA from the CUNY Graduate Center, and an Honors BA from the University of Toronto. She rides motorcycles, which inspired the title of this project. She lives and loves in Brooklyn, NY.

Damien works professionally in tech, has been a small-business owner as a web developer, has run the financial side of small LGBTQ arts organizations, and has participated in cooperative, freelance, sharing economy, DIY and investment business ventures.

More about her at: hadassahdamien.com
Contact her via email: hd [at] ridefreefearlessmoney.com

RIDE FREE FEARLESS MONEY launched Fall 2015, and has served almost 1,000 people in courses, workshops and coaching since!

The mission of Ride Free is to stabilize progressive communities by empowering folks’ relationship to their money, to teach hacks for capitalism, and to help people get their time and energy back!

With my second bike, a Virago 750.

Ride Free started with recurring classes full of useful financial information, and a “talkshop” series where people who need help handling their financial lives are able to get the information they need to take care of themselves, their communities, and their [often chosen] families in a collaborative, community-building way.

Now expanded to online classes, workshops, and coaching, this information is designed are for people of all kinds and all income levels, with women and LGBTQ people in particular at the center.

The teaching style shares genuinely useful skills, tips, and life hacks in a space that honors the fraught relationships we each may have with money, and the intersectional reasons for that with conversational elements.

In Damien’s words…
“Frankly, I think making handling finances achievable is a way to strengthen, de-stress, and support communities and individuals while de-centering silence, shame, and the concept of financial normativity.
This is a way to lift each other up, whether you’re broke or deciding how to invest.”
  • Women make ~$0.78 on a man’s $1.00, and POC folks make ~$0.58 on a white $1.00 on average in the US. To me, this means it’s crucial that our cents work harder for us and we have info to strategically deal with our money.
  • Dyke bars, communal houses, and queer land projects close because they are owned by outsiders who kick out these communities — to me this means owning property is one way to hold the line for community spaces. E.g. The Lesbian Herstory Archives, Idyll Dandy Acres. These spaces need resourced supporters.
  • Corporations take tax writeoffs that lose our social safety nets millions, while artists, freelancers, and part-time workers struggle to make ends meet — not realizing there’s tax writeoffs for us, too.

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Why this project?

It’s an understatement to say that money is not neutral, right? It’s a huge pain point for a lot of people across class/race/gender
/ability/education — and yet these play into our experiences in important ways….which pretty much never get mentioned in money education.
Goals and values around money are hugely personal and political — and not all of us are on the middle-class individualist nuclear family 9-5 train that most financial literacy assumes as a default value.
If that’s not your reality, no matter how much money you do or don’t have, the financial realm is a very different and sometimes alienating world. But, it doesn’t have to be — you just need to know how it works.

Why me? I know tons about money management and I’m all heart + straight-talk. 

My life experience has led me to be forthright in talking about money to people across class lines. I have a ton of valuable knowledge and I share pro-tips, life-hacks, and enthusiasm at your success. I am genuine in my belief that we all rise together.
I’m a person who defaulted on student loans and now has an 800+ credit score. I work freelance/nonprofit jobs and saved a down payment for a house (and a motorcycle, RIP). I run budgets and taxes for tiny arts orgs and business finances for a cooperative C-corp. I can explain investing, mortgages, schedule-Cs, collections and credit having dealt with all of these.
I simultaneously hold the beliefs that capitalism is exploitative and awful and it’s crucial to know how to take care of ourselves and have things we need — and want! — as a way of holding the line and improving our lives.